“With China, let us concentrate on our economic ties and to the extent that we can, transcend the matters at issue between us,” a strategic recommendation by former President, and now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Arroyo made the statement during the launch of the book of her lawyer, Estelito Mendoza, titled “The Ocean Space or The Maritime Area of the Philippines.”
Arroyo, however, said she is not giving recommendation to have a joint exploration in the West Philippine Sea with China.
“I don’t know all the facts that are available to the current administration so I will not dare to make any recommendation. I keep that attitude because of my experience as president. There were so many people in the peanut gallery telling me what to do when they don’t have all the facts at their disposal,” Arroyo told reporters.
During Arroyo administration, the Philippines inked a Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking (JMSU) with China and Vietnam in that covered islands located 142,886 square kilometers west of Palawan, or within the Philippines’ 200-nautical-miles exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The legality of the JMSU pact, which lapsed in 2008, was questioned before the Supreme Court. The former president clarified that the JMSU was made only for research and did not compromise any country’s claims over the West Philippine Sea.
“In the language of the JMSU agreement, it does not prejudice or affect the respective positions of various countries on issues related to the area because it is only a research survey,” Arroyo said.